Tuesday, November 28, 2006

This I Believe

In another NPR related post, there's a segment of "This I Believe" that features the perspective of Joan Tower, who's spent over 60 years performing and composing music. How she feels about music resonates with me deeply because in many ways it's how I feel about poetry and writing.

Give it a listen if you get a chance.

Last Night I Dreamed Of Peace

Over at NPR they had a great story the other day about Dang Thuy Tram's diary of her experiences as a North Vietnamese doctor who was killed during the war.

Many are equating it to a story on par with The Diary of Anne Frank, and it's apparently a huge best seller in Vietnam already.

It will be translated into English as "Last Night I Dreamed Of Peace" and released in 2007.

I'm not that keen regarding the voice they used to read Dang Thuy Tram's work in this report, but overall the audio version is quite effective. This looks like it's going to be one to watch next year.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Minneapolis Reading This Saturday

Storyteller and anthropologist David Zander is announcing the second series of cultural readings and storytelling events in North Mpls. starting the season with:

An Evening Celebration of Hmong New Year
With local poets and writers: Pacyinz Lyfoung, Bryan Thao Worra and Mhonpaj Lee.

Special Guest: Hmong Anthropologist and novelist Gary Yia Lee in his historic world debut public reading of his creative work.

Saturday. Nov. 25, 2006
7 – 9 p.m.
Camden Coffee
1500 44th. Ave North.
(Corner of Humboldt Ave North and 44th Ave North)

MC: David Zander

Everyone is invited!

Outsiders Within Aftermath

Visit Outsiders Within at www.Outsiderswithin.com!

Jae Ran over at the new Harlow's Monkey has a post up about the Outsiders Within book release party in Minneapolis, MN that pretty well sums it up. It was a cold night, but a packed house. Emotions were intense, but I would say this easily falls under the category of what we would call great moments of soul in all of our lives. Thanks to everyone who supported us, whether in-person or from afar. Your energy made a difference.

Here's a brief video clip from my reading that evening. Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to post more throughout the week!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Bryan's New York Play Debut + Other Stuff Too.

For those of you in the New York Area:

Ed Lin, the author of the hilarious comedy novel Waylaid, currently adapted as the film The Motel, is putting on an outrageous, scandalous and amusingly perverse reading festival of short plays in two parts
(with a 15-minute intermission):

Sex and No Sex.

The play's the thing? Kinky.

Saturday Nov. 18 at 7:30 pm
Ensemble Studio Theater
549 West 52nd Street
Sixth Floor
New York, New York

No Sex features:

Vulnerability Assessment by Chris Harcum
Laundromat by Nora Chau
The Battleby Debra Castellano
Six Feet is Deeper Than You Think by Jerry Finkelstein
The Last Hmong Folktale by May Lee
Flight to Flight From by J.P. Chan
I Look Like My Picture by Eileen Rivera
The Felix Awards by Natalie Kim

Sex features:

Black Box by Bryan Thao Worra
The Roosevelt Cousins Thoroughly Sauced by Michael Lew
A Day at the Beach by Ted Sod
I Want You by David Deblinger
Incompatible by Aileen Cho
F2F by Julie Wilder

Now, I don't often say this, but I'll place the strongest caveat that my short play, Black Box, is absolutely family unfriendly as it takes on race, sex, porn, desire, Borders, borders, warped humor and oh, more sex, and it will absolutely never get performed in Minnesota.

Come early as the elevator shaft can only accomdate 3 people at a time.

No, seriously.
That's not some bizarre innuendo. :)

Hint. This play has nothing to do with airplanes or that band from the '90s.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

New Blogs To Check Out

Check out Burlee Vang's blog:

Where is the child I was, still inside me or gone?
at http://www.burlee.blogspot.com/

Over recent years, Burlee has been an energetic figure promoting a new generation of Hmong American writers in Fresno. An award-winning writer, his poetry and short stories are gaining a lot of attention and for good reason. And he makes damn fun Hmong horror movies when he gets around to it. Keep it up, Burlee!

Yeah, this is a good shot of him, but you should see the blackmail photos we've got of this guy...

And not a new blog but more of an update: Harlow's Monkey has moved over to http://harlowmonkey.typepad.com/ so be sure to fix your links to match that, if you haven't already.

Another member of the ruthless simian conspiracy determined to rule the world!

Adoptee Roll Call: Romulus and Remus

In the wake of this month's elections and other political brouhaha, we're going to highlight two famous adoptees of myth and legend and prominent politicians/nation builders:

Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome.

Got Wolf's Milk?

The two were twins who were set adrift to die on the Tiber river, but were kept safe by the river god Tiberinus, who made the cradle catch in the roots of a fig tree growing in the Velabrum swamp.

According to most sources, Tiberinus then brought the infant twins up onto the Palatine Hill. There, the two were nursed by a she-wolf (lupa in Latin, a designation also used for female prostitutes, leading to an alternative theory that the "wolf" was actually human) underneath a fig-tree and were fed by a woodpecker.

Well, maybe not this one.

Romulus and Remus were soon discovered by the shepherd Faustulus, who brought the children to his home and raised the boys as his own until they were old enough to go found their own nation...

And the rest is history that you can read over at the Wikipedia and around the web.

But still a fun thing to keep in mind of how far you can go.

Who is this Bwian?

Outsiders Within Release Party

It's finally here.


Hope to see you there if you can make it!
Saturday, November 18th, 2006, 6 p.m.

Barbara Barker Center for Dance 500 21st Ave.
South Minneapolis, MN 55455

Co-sponsored by The First Nations Orphans Association and The University of Minnesota: The Consortium for the Study of the Asias, The Institute for Global Studies, American Studies, Asian American Studies, and the Dance Program.



Don't miss the show!

Ananya Dance Theatre
performing an excerpt from DUURBAAR

The First Nations Orphans Association
performing the Wiping of Tears Ceremony

Jane Jeong Trenka
Julia Chinyere Oparah
Sun Yung Shin
Asha Tall (from South End Press)
Jae Ran Kim
Beth Kyong Lo
Kim Park Nelson
Bryan Thao Worra
Sandy White Hawk

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

A few days now with the election results in and news of Rumsfeld's departure making headlines, I'm largely satisfied with the results.

But I'm now more frightened that some people will confuse victory for effective strategy.

As seen in certain races like MN Governor and Virginia, in particular, or even Bachmann vs. Wetterling, and elsewhere across the country, what bugs me is that the margins had to be so close at all.

Given everything that's been going on, even without the scandals and gaffes, it shouldn't have come down to the wire in many of these races, and should have been more Klobuchar (58%) or McCollum (70%).

Half the time, it was the opposition that's stumbling over itself trying to hand it to someone else, and still people had to debate about it?

There's a segment that would seriosuly rather go with someone who HAS historically screwed them over, because we don't change horses in midstream or some ridiculous thing like that?

It's like saying, "Sure, Mike Tyson punches people out a lot, but I bet it won't hurt if I step into the ring with him."

Still, that's democracy in action for you. I'm glad we've got it. Let's just make sure we keep working to keep it fine-tuned and truly reflective of the people.

And in the meantime, just to keep it light:

Over at Tripmaster Monkey they're pointing out Radar Magazine's hilarious report on a new monkey menace

I Blow Rhesus To Pieces!

This ranks pretty high on the ol' bizzarometer.

Oh, and if you aren't already doing so, stop by at http://www.apiablogs.net where some of the most interesting blogs by Asian Americans are collected. It's a daily stop for me. You never know what you're going to find there, but it's usually good.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Goose Steps And Gags

achtung baby!

Two fun articles have got my attention this afternoon:

Over at The Toronto Star we've got a fascinating article on the Goose Step and what it means to tyrants, and why they seem to like what looks like a ridiculous march to the rest of us. But for some reason, this also brings to mind "The Producers" for me today.

It's Springtime for Hitler and Germany! Goose-step's the new step today!

Meanwhile, David Crossland over at The Spiegel has an excellent article reviewing a new book on Nazi-era humor: "Did you hear the one about Hitler..." which brings to mind for me the lines from Bertolt Brecht's poem "Motto":

In the dark times, will there also be singing?
Yes, there will be singing
About the dark times.

Actually, many of the jokes presented, in a different time, probably wouldn't be seen as terribly funny, but back then they could get you killed, especially if they smacked of 'defeatism'.

Nuts. We're going on the list for this one.

What gets to me is the fact that we waver dangerously close to a point in contemporary America where laughter and more importantly, opposing viewpoints are silenced and discouraged.

Years ago, I came across a post that argued that the big mistake most of us make is that we treat Nazis and Nazism like they're cold, cruel, evil and competent people.

It was argued that instead we should be mocking them at every turn and opportunity, because what people who are turning to Nazism today are looking for is to be seen as cold, ruthlessly competent people. They think it's cool. And they want to be seen as part of something 'cool'.

Perhaps the appropriate response is if we just presented Nazis as idiotic bumblers with all the style sense of bell bottoms and hair shirts. Neo-nazi recruitment would plummet overnight.

I see not-ink! Sgt. Schulz. The True Poster child for Aryan Nation?

While the US isn't instituting the goose-step, the way we're told to revere and fetishize the military and elite police forces of America should be considered carefully. Giving up freedom for style is never cool.

I'm edgy! And your future symbol for Freedom!

Leonard Cohen's song 'First We Take Manhattan' utters the lines:

I'm guided by a signal in the heavens
I'm guided by this birthmark on my skin
I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin

Make of this post what you will.

Who's the real puppet?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

November Spawned A Monster

'Mistress, if you don't leave him where you found him, you'll set up the roots for transcultural adoption for centuries!' Hmmph! Bring it on!'

With the end of October, we see a sad end to the regular updates of our Creature Features, but that was so much fun I think we'll do it again next year. We've far from exhausted the topic.

But this month, the theme for On The Other Side of the Eye is the fact that November is both National Novel Writing Month and National Adoption Month.

So throughout the month, expect posts touching on both and then some.

I'm going to give a nice clap to the folks at http://nanowrimo.org because last year they worked hard to fundraise to help build libraries in Laos. Yay!

This year the cause is children's libraries in Vietnam! They've previously also supported chilren's libraries in Cambodia. Good luck!

Mind you, for some reason their site is uber-slow today, but bear with it. It's a fun project.

Yeah, I'm in it. But there are good reasons to buy it anyway.

Amusingly enough, I've already taken some heat for Outsiders Within that I'm not going to get into, but it sounds like the discussions are starting up already around the country, and just in time too, as Madonna tries to go all Angelina Jolie in Africa. Hussy see, hussy do. Oops. That's terribly politically incorrect. Oh well.

There's a lot of food for thought in Outsiders Within. Some written by younger voices, others who are more seasoned, and of course, some at a very radical end of the spectrum. Some are hard to get through, others are a breeze.

In any case, it's an important look at what adoptees themselves have to say about their experience, and one that's rarely heard.

Frankly, that supression always freaks me out.

Especially when it comes from both Asian and Non-Asian, adopted and non-adopted elements of my community. But that's a different cup of coffee to talk about.

Ok, time to close this entry off with a nod to a positive example of an adoptee: The Peach Boy.

Momotaro. Peach Boy, Ass kicker.

The quick take on it is Momotarō is found in a giant peach floating down the river by an old, childless couple who were originally going to eat it. Almost nice and Freudian there. Had it gone badly, it might have looked like Saturn eating his kids... But anyway:

The boy explains he was sent by Heaven to be their son. The couple names him Momotarō, and they all get along well, because who's going to argue with divine providence?

Anyway, years pass, and Momotarō decides to leave to the island of Onigashima to destroy the marauding, monstrous oni that have taken up residence there. On the way, Momotarō meets and befriends a talking dog, monkey, and pheasant, who agree to help him in his quest.

Momotarō and his animal buddies penetrate the demons' fort and beat the demons into surrendering. Momotarō returns home with his new friends, and his family live comfortably ever after.


One moral of the Peach Boy story that usually gets left out is the theme that one doesn't sell one's children, one's future, for peace, happiness and convenience. As we run into a certain overseas quagmire, it seems we should ponder the old lessons more.

There are many great adaptations of Peach Boy running around. One that I find particularly cute is Stan Sakai's take that's written within the world of Usagi Yojimbo.

Don't call him Bugs.

If you can find a copy these days, it's great.

Oh, and the title for this post comes from a controversial Morrissey tune.